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Ross Astoria

New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision is the nation’s leading attempt to realign the business and governance of structures of electrical utilities with the technological attributes of renewable energy resources. Under the traditional, centralized model, low-income households were the recipient of cross-class subsidies which preserved their access to heat and power while stabilizing utility revenues. As distributed energy resources decentralize the electrical system’s physical and governance structures, governments are presented with two general options. The first is energy apartheid, where the mass-affluent defect from the grid and leave low-income households exposed to a financially and physically destabilized grid. The second is energy democracy, where low-income households are allowed access to financing and governance structures which enable them to become owners of distributed energy resources. This chapter considers whether New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision is trending towards energy apartheid or energy democracy.